Pr. Rossow, the senior pastor at my own church, has posted Part 1 of the Sacristan Rubric developed by a former member of Bethany Lutheran, Naperville. As someone who serves as a Sacristan, this has been a great resource of study into the history of and responsibilities around this sacred duty.
The idea of someone being all on their own in an environment far form any other human being is one that’s been explored many times in film. Cast Away, Open Water, Solaris…there are plenty of examples where the main story of the film involves one or just a couple of people who are stranded, either accidentally or on some sort of mission, away from the rest of humanity. Sometimes the characters deal with it by giving into the urge to go crazy, sometimes fully and sometimes in an effort to retain whatever humanity they’re able to hold on to.
The latest movie to plumb that idea is Moon. Set at some point in the not-too-distant future, Sam Rockwell plays a man who has signed on to man a moon base that supplies energy to the population of Earth. His contract is for three years and he’s the only person at the base, accompanied only by a computer assistant. With two weeks left on his contract he can see the end of his isolation, but it’s at that point he begins to find some strange goings-on, including the discovery of a mysterious figure at one of the base’s energy platforms.
There were two posters that crossed my radar, though I’m not really sure as to how official one was or if it was more of a promotional image that was repurposed.
The one that I have some questions about has Rockwell standing in the middle of hallway that very much looks like it’s part of a space station, which is kind of emphasized by the fact that Rockwell appears to be wearing a space suit. It does a decent job of conveying both the setting (space) and the theme (solitude) of the movie but it’s not all that striking and the “last place you’d ever expect to find yourself” copy at the bottom is a bit too clever for its own good.
The second poster, released after Sony Pictures picked up the movie for distribution, is a bit better. This time Rockwell is set amidst a series of concentric circles, an image that creates a disorienting and hypnotic picture and, I think, does a better job of conveying not only the isolation the main character is suffering from but also the madness he presumably descends into. The circle is vaguely moon-like without being a moon, which is a neat trick. The copy is also better, saying “The hardest thing to face…is yourself,” something that’s a lot less coy than what appears on the first poster.
Only one trailer appears to have been created but it’s a pretty good one. It starts off by setting up who Rockwell’s character is, with dialogue and scenes that make it clear he’s on the moon and he’s there as part of his job and that he both loves and is loved by his wife and family. One day, very near the end of his tenure at the station, he goes to check out some sort of anomoly and winds up making a discovery that makes him question his entire situation as well as his very mental stability.
The trailer is tight and well constructed, doing a good job of providing the foundational elements of the plot and giving glimpses as to the depths Rockwell’s character – and his performance – wind up going into. It’s not going to appeal to everyone and there’s a bit of a heavy-handed attempt at the end to speed up the editing to make it seem like there’s some sort of race against time, but overall it does a good job of showing the movie off to people who might not know about it. Then again anyone who doesn’t already know about it isn’t likely to check it out, but that’s another issue for another time.
The movie’s official website does a decent job of communicating the story of the movie but does a great job of communicating the filmmaker’s passion for the project.
The “About” section contains About Moon, which contains a synopsis of the film’s plot and how director Jones was inspired to develop the story, both in terms of what the story would tackle and how it would challenge Rockwell. The Through the Airlock and Science Notes sections are more technical, with the first dealing with the film’s sets and the second dealing with the real science behind the ideas in the movie.
“Synopsis” is a bit more of a clear, stand-alone explanation of the film’s story than what appears in the first section. It’s obviously meant to convey to a general audience the story of the movie, including the same sort of “race to the finish” feeling at the end that the trailer had. It’s free of any philosophy and full of attempts at communicating entertainment value, which is what it’s supposed to do I suppose.
“Cast” contains just two names, largely because it’s just two people – Rockwell and Kevin Spacey – that make up the movie’s primary cast. “Filmmakers” has a few more names, ranging from Jones to the film’s producers.
“Reviews” is a great idea, but there are just a few quotes in there and there aren’t links to any of them. I know there were a ton of reviews that came out of the film’s appearance at this year’s Sundance Film Festival so it’s a bit odd that all of them come from mainstream outlets without any from the online media that was there.
“Media” contains the film’s trailer, a video of a Q&A session held by the filmmakers at NASA as well as a downloadable version of that session’s transcript. “Gallery” has about a dozen stills from the movie. “Links” has nothing save a note that it’s content is Coming Soon.
Advertising and Cross-Promotions
Nothing that I’ve seen. The movie’s only opening in a couple cities this weekend and there might be something that’s running in LA or New York but out here in the boonies (the greater Chicago area) there’s been bupkis in the way of advertising. That combined with no promotional partners or anything like that I’d be willing to be the movie is flying under the radar of most everyone.
Media and Publicity
The movie had a ton of buzz coming out of its Sundance premiere but I’m not seeing any attempt at reviving any of that interest by the studio in the weeks leading up to its release. Granted, the press is pretty busy crawling all over themselves to talk to Michael Bay or Hugh Jackman or whomever, but I’m not even noticing anything on the more indie-centric blogs that revisits the positive word-of-mouth from a few months ago. There were a couple pieces like this one from the New York Times that used Jones’ celebrity pedigree as a hook for a story but other than that there was a whole lot of silence on the publicity front.
I love – love – the best of the two posters but, while I do generally like the rest of the campaign there’s a overall sense I have of it not being all that interesting. The trailer gives away the big plot twist that a lot of early reviewers were hesitant to mention, apparently since the creators of the trailer figured they had nothing to lose and didn’t want whatever crossover audience the film might bring in to feel surprised. Not sure of the thinking there, but it is what it is.
It’s hard to scare up an emotion about the rest of the campaign because there isn’t much of one. Even the official site, which I quite like for its focus on the artistic impulses of the filmmakers, falls a bit short because it doesn’t include any information on where the film is being released.
It’s too bad the film didn’t receive a more full-throated effort, especially in light of the fantastic word-of-mouth it got after Sundance. Releasing it during the summer blockbuster season, even if it is during a relatively slow weekend, seems like an attempt to unload it, not as a legitimate counter-programming move. That feeling is only intensified because that release only includes two cities right out of the gate.
PICKING UP THE SPARE
- 9/22/09: There are a ton of cool unused poster design concepts for the Duncan Jones movie that have been released. Some look similar to what was eventually used but all very much continue the idea of the solitude of the Sam Rockwell character.
Just a quick note on some things I’ve done to, hopefully, enhance Movie Marketing Madness, mostly in the form of WordPress plugins that I’ve installed.
First, I’ve added Yet Another Related Posts plugin that will display a list of five auto-generated links to posts that related to the one you’re looking at. The list appears when you click a post slug and scroll to the bottom and will also appear in the RSS feed.
Along those same lines is the RSS Footer plugin that shows off a couple of hand-picked links to other pages on MMM that might be of interest to readers.
Next is ShareThis, which appears at the bottom of the story and allows you to easily take that story and send it to the social network of your choice as well as easily email it to a friend or co-worker.
Finally, I just added the PrintFriendly plugin that allows you to print or download as a PDF any page or post on MMM. The functionality is super-cool and you can opt to strip out pictures and other items that are superfluous to what you’d like to print out or archive on your hard drive. I’m going with this instead of uploading the PDF version of every Movie Marketing Madness column to thost posts, which never looked very pretty to me. I’ll still add clean versions to the Download MMM page but not to every post.
Like I said, I hope these tweaks and additions make the MMM experience a little more engaging and useful to anyone visiting, not only turning them on to other content they might enjoy but also giving them functionality that will allow them to spread the love.